January is usually a “cutting back” time for American families. We’ve come off the high of holiday parties, gifts and traveling and are settling into the realities of cold, blustery winter and higher heating bills. Even if we’re not consciously seeking ways to cut expenses and save money, it seems as though we just naturally gravitate to staying home, spending less, and preparing simple, filling, body- and soul-warming foods in the wintertime. The bonus of simple eating is that it happens, more often than not, in the comfort and warmth of our own homes. Eating at home saves money. Cooking from scratch saves money. Using a Crock-Pot slow cooker saves time and energy that you can invest in other worthwhile endeavors –like
If you’re getting earnest about saving money on groceries, a Crock-Pot® Programmable Slow Cooker with iStir™ Stirring System could be a big help in getting some of those simple, but delicious, meals to the table for less. Using your slow cooker to prepare meals at home can save money in your grocery budget. Less expensive ingredients or cuts of meat, slow cooked with herbs and seasonings, can become flavorful, filling and cost-effective meals. I recently had a chance to test this latest addition to the Crock-Pot slow cooker line-up and I think it is probably one of the most versatile and efficient slow cookers I’ve ever used. And I don’t say that lightly. As the owner of EIGHT slow cookers (I know, I’m getting help.:) ), I definitely have something to compare to. I like this one — a lot! Let me tell you why.
- It’s not the largest available, (that would be 7 quarts), but it is a hefty 6-quart capacity cooker. Whether you have a small family or a large one, whether you’re making a family meal or making queso dip for a crowd, it will be up to the job.
- It includes the iStir technology, which I didn’t consider that important of a feature, at first. However, after using it, I realize how often during the cooking process I was opening my slow cookers to stir the contents and allowing all the steam and heat built up inside to escape. The built-in stirring capability means much more consistent, efficient and even cooking. Plus, if I walk away for several hours, the dish is still being stirred occasionally and won’t end up being burnt to the bottom of my crock.
- The stirring mechanism is controlled by a motor on the top of the lid, which is removable and interchangeable with a classic lid handle, for cooking without the stirring feature — when making a roast or pork loin, for example.
- The lid clamps down to make a tighter seal and to make it easier to transport without spills if you’re taking it to a potluck.
- The iStir has digital controls that allow you to set the cook time for your dish for anywhere from 30 minutes to 20 hours. The temperature for the slow cooker can be set for High or Low, as is typical of these appliances. And when the programmed cooking time has been completed, it automatically switches to Warm.
- The oval-shaped stoneware crock works well for large cuts of meat or for soups, dips and casseroles.
- Both the crock and lid are dishwasher safe.
- The polished stainless steel and black exterior will fit with any kitchen décor, plus it’s attractive sitting out on the counter.
This tasty soup is a great example of a dish that is prepared and stirred without ever having to remove the lid of the slow cooker during the cooking time. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine!
- 5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup (8 oz) cream cheese
- ¼ cup butter
- optional garnish: grated cheddar, diced bacon pieces, chopped green onion
- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- Mince the onion and garlic.
- Add the potatoes, onion garlic and chicken stock into the slow cooker.
- Stir together and put the lid on the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 2½ to 3 hours or on low for 5 to 5½ hours. Whichever temperature you choose, you want the potatoes to cook until they are fork-tender, not mushy. Since every slow cooker heats a little differently be sure to check the doneness of your potatoes as the soup cooks. Then you can determine the optimum amount of time for your own slow cooker.
- Once the potatoes have cooked through, remove the lid from the Crock-Pot slow cooker and add the cream cheese, cream and butter to the crock.
- I used my immersion blender to puree about ½ of the potatoes and mix the other ingredients into the soup. We prefer our potato soup to have some chunks of potato in it, but you could puree the entire thing, if you like it completely smooth. Also, it would work just as well to put the mixture into a blender pitcher to puree it, if you don't have an immersion blender.
- Serve with your favorite garnishes. We love it with grated cheddar and green onions and when I have some on hand, I fry two or three strips of bacon to dice up for garnish. Delish!
Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a Crock-Pot iStir Slow Cooker for your own kitchen. To enter, just leave a comment telling me your favorite budget-friendly dish to cook in a slow cooker. Then register your comment on the Rafflecopter form.
a Rafflecopter giveaway